Image for Explosions in the Sky, Charge @ The Metro, Sydney (12/12/2011)

Explosions in the Sky, Charge@ The Metro, Sydney(12/12/2011)

It’s been four long years since Texans Explosions in the Sky last graced these shores and judging by the palpable sense of anticipation in this sold out crowd, it has been an agonising wait for many. For fans of heart-on-sleeve post rock there’s nobody better. While other bands of their ilk opt for chin-stroking, intellectual music or settle for impressive but ultimately unmoving displays of technical virtuosity , EITS aim for soul-soaring, heart-in-throat catharsis.

Tonight’s support, Sydneysiders Charge Group, proved an inspired choice as there’s something similar to the headliners in the way they use loud-soft dynamics and building momentum to take the listener somewhere emotional. In songs like Speakeasy Death Song they use space to great effect, the crescendos all the more powerful for their restraint that surrounds them. Broken Summer, meanwhile is a frail, pretty tune that hints at something darker lying beneath its surface. New song The Gold is Gone, from an EP due for release next year, plots a more conventional path, its sprawling guitar work reminiscent of some of the moodier Bluebottle Kiss work and adding another dimension to this always impressive outfit.

Following a mercifully short break between bands, the curtain draws (slowly and, in a comical anticlimax, incompletely) on Explosions in The Sky, guitars at the ready and a Texan flag proudly draped over an amp stack. De facto frontman Munaf Rayani says a few words and then for the next hour or so, they say absolutely nothing. It’s better this way, though – this is music that is so totally immersive and emotionally involving that it’s easy to forget where you are, to be completely, utterly, lost in the best way possible. The Only Moment We Were Alone is a stirring beginning, its graceful, slow build expertly rendered by a four-prong guitar attack.

Songs bleed into each other, riding waves of pure emotion and blissful cacophony. Time and again, their wild ambition and cinematic scope builds to satisfying emotional payoffs. The Birth and Death of the Day was triumphant and the symphonic Your Hand in Mine almost overwhelming. Catastrophe and The Cure is similarly grand, melodies flickering in and out of beautiful noise. This year’s Take Care, Take Care LP, their best work in years, is also well represented, with the likes of Let Me Back In, Last Known Surroundings and Postcard from 1952 all being thrown into the mix. Finally, they’re sweat drenched and emotionally spent and Rayani farewells the crowd with some simple words of gratitude. As ever, he doesn’t need to say much – wordless as they are, these colossal songs speak volumes for themselves.

Comments arrow left

MorningAfterboy said on the 15th Dec, 2011

Great write-up, Dan! What a gig.


sarcasm_mister said on the 15th Dec, 2011

SMH review

EXPLOSIONS in the Sky, a Texan quartet, do not do music like most other bands. Purely instrumental, they have no frontman or leader, instead relying on collaboration and blissful egalitarianism to build together beautiful melodies and head-spinning walls of noise.

But having no singer comes with risks. How to sustain people's attention? How to provide something for people to grab onto and remember? On stage, there was a genuine feeling of collaboration, of just a group dedicated to the process of creating a song from start to finish and bottom to top. The music had no small part to play in the atmosphere of love and parity on stage. It opened you up and grabbed your emotions. It was an eye-opening surge of splendour, as one music critic put it, like the first gasp of a newborn baby taking in the world for the very first time.

Most tracks were taken from their sixth studio album, Take Care, Take Care, Take Care, but to break their set down into individual songs would do them a disservice. It was one long, uninterrupted journey of prolonged and intense build-ups, beautiful explosions of swirling sound and rippling, meandering interludes that tip-toed through silence before swelling into something massive again.

Soaring guitars and tender melodies were anchored in the real world with sharp drums. The undulations were incredibly satisfying, from eerie and muted to ecstatically large, and the layers upon layers of music were thoughtful and genuine.

However, in the 90-minute set it was impossible not to rue the absence of a leader or a lyric. They lost me at some points. I came back, sure enough, but felt the set became such a swirling mass of beautiful, faceless noise it was sometimes hard to stay with it. As soon as I left, I remembered nothing. There were no epic climaxes that stood out. Rather, I left with a feeling or a perspective. And that is exactly what Explosions of the Sky do so well.


sarcasm_mister said on the 15th Dec, 2011

aka don't know their music well enough to pick out the songs lol.

Jose Cuervo

Jose Cuervo said on the 15th Dec, 2011

That was worse than an Old Gregg review :\


dream_brother said on the 15th Dec, 2011

I.e I don't really know this band but my equally as retarded friends fapping on about them made me want to review it. Deep down, I prefer Tame Impala.